Most Preschoolers with ADHD Stay on Meds for Years


About 65% of preschool children who were diagnosed with ADHD and given stimulant drugs were still taking those drugs three and six years later, according to a study in Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. About 10% were also being prescribed an antipsychotic.

Led by a National Institute of Mental Health researcher, the study was a three-year and six-year follow-up on the Preschool ADHD Treatment Study, reassessing about two hundred of the original 303 children.

“At year three, overall, 34 percent were on no pharmacotherapy, 41.3 percent were on stimulant monotherapy,” summarized Psychiatric News. “9.2 percent on atomoxetine (alone or with a stimulant); 8.3 percent on an antipsychotic, usually together with a stimulant; and the remaining 7.2 percent were on other pharmacotherapy. Overall, 65.0% were on an indicated ADHD medication.”

At year six, the numbers were similar, except a higher percentage — 13.4% — had had an antipsychotic added to their regimen.

Vitiello, Benedetto, Deborah Lazzaretto, Kseniya Yershova, Howard Abikoff, Natalya Paykina, James T. McCracken, James J. McGough, et al. “Pharmacotherapy of the Preschool ADHD Treatment Study (PATS) Children Growing Up.” Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Accessed May 6, 2015. doi:10.1016/j.jaac.2015.04.004. (Abstract)


  1. Note the increase in antipsychotic “therapy” as the years of stimulant “treatment” go forward. This is true insanity. Stimulants increase dopamine levels in the brain. Antispsychotics decrease them. The longer kids are on stimulants, the more their brains adapt by lowering dopamine transmission, and the higher the dosage required to suppress the “symptoms.” The higher the dose, the more likely there are side effects like aggression and psychosis, and the more likely they get diagnosed with “bipolar disorder” and put on antipsychotics to decrease the dopamine cascade caused by the increased dosage of stimulants.

    Stupidity. If you want less dopamine, stop increasing it with the stimulants! Instead, we have over 10% of these kids taking antipsychotics with all the attendant side effects (including dramatically decreased life expectancy) for iatrogenic reasons. And no one has the insight or the kahunas to call BS on the psychiatrists. I see it every day working with foster youth, and it really is a very disgusting situation.

    —- Steve

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  2. This is despicable.

    What parents need to do before giving any child psychiatric drugs is adjust for body weight and take it themselves. Do it for a week. How did you sleep ? What did you think of the high then that depleted feeling and anxiety ridden crash ?

    Antipsychotics , can you think at all now ?

    9.2 percent on atomoxetine… Take that for a week parents.

    Common side effects of Strattera include trouble sleeping (insomnia), dry mouth, cough, decreased appetite, upset stomach, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, problems urinating, irritability, constipation, skin rash, itching, increased menstrual cramps, and sexual side effects including impotence, loss of interest in sex, or trouble having an orgasm.


    “Atomoxetine” You read those effects and STILL fed it to the child ?

    I could write a really angry comment but the only way people can really know how nasty this stuff is is to take it themselves.

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    • My son has ADHD and he does take medication for his symptoms, it was not something my husband and I did happily or without doing hours of research. In fact, we spent years researching other options, spending hours in therapy with him, hoping to teach him ways to handle his symptoms with out medication. Sometimes it’s a necessary evil. It was our absolute last option, if he needs it to be able to focus at school and to help with his impulse control as well as all of his other symptoms, then we’re going to do what we need to do. We didn’t take him to a shrink for his dx or his medication, we took him to a pediatric specialist,only after we had him see two other doctors, to get a third opinion.
      The medication we all decided on for him is working really well at the lowest dose, he eats just fine, sleeps just as well as he did before we started medication, and he doesn’t have to deal with any anxiety ridden crash. Before I even put his patch on him, I did try it first. There was only one way to know what he was going to have deal with so I did test it on myself first.
      By the way, his childhood is great. He is loved, he is happy, he is amazing. Even if he is medicated Monday through Friday.

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      • I was very moved reading this. You and your husband sound like very loving, caring, and nurturing parents, and extremely conscientious. Your son is very fortunate. I’m so impressed that you tried the patch yourself, first, and especially that everyone concerned is satisfied with a minimum dosage for your son. It’s uplifting to hear of the positive outcome for your son and family! That’s a delicate balance that is often never satisfactorily reached.

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  3. This is truly a heartbreaking topic.
    I am currently working in an elementary school, and it’s clear that teachers are unwittingly serving as pushers of drugs. And, once pushed to pediatricians, the pediatricians are dishing them out in spades.
    Though I don’t know all the drug names anymore, I went to a meeting today in which the parent reeled off three or four drugs the student was on – a veritable cocktail that included an SSRI, an ADHD drug, and some sort of sleeping medication. And “still” – according to the parent – the child is having real problems with anxiety and behavior. She reported that the pediatrician, when listening to the concerns of the parent, blamed it on the child’s age.
    When will this cruelty stop and our society come to grips with this epidemic?

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    • Seriously. If the “treatment” were working, why are they on three or four drugs and still having anxiety and behavior problems? And if it’s “the child’s age,” then why are they prescribing drugs for what they are saying is normal developmental behavior?

      When things get better, it’s always because the drug is working, but when they don’t improve or get worse, it’s always the child or the “disorder.” There is zero accountability.

      — Steve

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  4. I don’t know how to go about it exactly, but when are we going to get our fill of this atrocity and rise up and do something about it? The goal of the drug companies is to have every person in America on one of their psych drugs. Psychiatrists and real doctors like this because it will keep them in business handing out the poison, and the One Percent will love it because we’ll all be sheeple at that point and very easily controlled as their work force. If we don’t stop this now it will destroy all of us. What are the children of these children going to be like? This will have repercussions down the road for years to come. And we commiserate about it but we don’t do anything about it. I don’t know how to go about doing something about it but I know something must be done now.

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